Practice makes perfect with list guidelines

Nearly 10 years after it started the process, the Canadian Marketing Association has finally released its guidelines for the sale, rental or transfer of customer lists and data. The guidelines, which set down on paper best practices for owners of customer...

Nearly 10 years after it started the process, the Canadian Marketing Association has finally released its guidelines for the sale, rental or transfer of customer lists and data.

The guidelines, which set down on paper best practices for owners of customer data, are predicated on the assumption that when marketers make their lists and customer data available to other companies, they accept responsibility for the use of that information. So they’d better make sure any offers being made to their customers are on the level. If the offer looks dodgy – if the advertising claims are outlandish, if the creative is in poor taste, or if the offer requires consumers to pay a service charge in order to claim a ‘prize’, for example – it probably is, say the guidelines, and marketers should exercise caution if they are to protect their customer relationships.

‘Our expectations are that these standards will help list owners and users build and maintain positive relationships with their clients, prospects and business partners,’ Bob Coles, CMA database and list council chairman and senior vice-president of Toronto list management firm Cornerstone, told delegates to the CMA’s annual database and list conference held earlier this month in Toronto.

The guidelines, articulated in a 14-page booklet titled ‘Guidelines for List and Data Transfer Practices’, also cover the technicalities of list and data transactions, setting out procedures for the proper identification of all parties, limitations on use of the data, method of payment, and how the data is to be used.

The main goal of the document is to maintain consumer confidence in the industry, says CMA president and CEO John Gustavson.

‘It is important that marketers have guidelines that help protect and preserve the value and integrity of their lists and data, while at the same time protecting the privacy of their customers,’ says Gustavson. When the CMA first discussed creating the guidelines 10 years ago, he notes, list rentals had no standards.

‘We had to bring some order to the chaos, if I can put it that way,’ he says. ‘Most list managers and brokers act very responsibly, but as our industry grows, more and more people are getting involved and expectations and obligations become somewhat different. We needed a set of best practices, and think now we’ve got a pretty good template.’

Database and list industry leaders within the CMA’s membership developed the guidelines, which adhere to the organization’s code of ethics, says Gustavson.

‘These guidelines will help marketers sort out contracts with list owners and review campaign history,’ says Clay Greene, manager of client knowledge analytics with the Royal Bank of Canada. ‘There is a lot of neat stuff in here.’

Sidebar: CMA list council chair steps down: Bob Coles hands reins to Cathy Preston

Bob Coles is retiring as the chairman of the Canadian Marketing Association’s database and list council.

The announcement came as Coles and CMA chairman John Gustavson released the long-awaited, years-in-the-making list and data transfer guidelines earlier this month in Toronto. Coles officially steps down in June.

‘He’s totally worn out,’ joked Gustavson in introducing Coles at the recent CMA list conference.

Replacing him is Cathy Preston, CMA board member and managing partner of Toronto-based marketing agency the Mosaic Group. Her appointment goes into effect on June 1.

Coles remains active, of course, as senior vice-president of Cornerstone’s list brokerage. DE

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.